Twins first-round pick: Keoni Cavaco, shortstop, Chula Vista, Calif. – SKOR North

Twins\ first-round pick: Keoni Cavaco, shortstop, Chula Vista, Calif. - SKOR North
Lucky number 13: Twins take Keoni Cavaco in first round of MLB Draft
Keoni Cavaco has committed to play baseball at San Diego State, but the Minnesota Twins are counting on the fact they can get the 18-year-old from California to change his mind.

Cavaco, who is 6-1, 180 pounds, is the first player from Eastlake High to be drafted in the first round since Adrián González was the first-overall pick by the Florida Marlins in 2000.

On offense the thing that really shows is Cavacos power, as he able to tap into most of his raw power that may eventually grade out as plus (60 grade). He is also a plus runner now that is able to use his speed to stretch extra base hits and steal. He has a solid frame now (60 185lbs) and if he fills it out more he would lose a step or two but likely add even more power. He does have some swing and miss in his game, he struckout far too often against the mediocre competition he faced in a mid-tier California high school league this spring. If he can get that under control, he could really shoot up prospect rankings.

Cavaco was named to the 2019 Preseason California Region All-High School Senior first team, was named a 2018 High School Underclassmen All-American High Honorable Mention and was ranked the No. 1 high school player in the state of California by Perfect Game.

If Cavaco can become a real hitter, his potential is sky high, and that type of pick makes sense for where the Twins are at currently. The Twins have a number of players either signed long term or under team control for a few seasons, and a deep farm system of players that will either make our team or be traded to fill holes. With that depth, we have the flexibility to take a high risk, high reward player like Keoni Cavaco while putting very little stress on him to perform immediately because of the likes of other 1st round picks like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Trevor Larnach.

Since 2001, the Twins have selected a high school position player 14 times in the first round (includes compensation and competitive balance picks), including Joe Mauer (2001), Denard Span (2002), Trevor Plouffe (2004), Aaron Hicks (2008), Byron Buxton (2012), Alex Kirilloff (2016) and Royce Lewis (2017). Additionally, the Twins have selected a position player in the first round seven times since 2011, with Tyler Jay (2015) and Kohl Stewart (2013) being the only pitchers taken in the past nine years.

What a birthday present for Keoni Cavaco, who just turned 18 yesterday. Seriously! He joins Royce Lewis as a top draftee for the Twins with a June birthday, meaning he will always be a bit young for his level if he is pushed as aggresively as Lewis was, making it to Single-A Cedar Rapids just months after being drafted.

Cavaco is the 15th player selected by the Twins from California in the first round of the draft, joining Travis Lee (San Diego State University, 1996), Plouffe (Crespi Carmelite High School, 2004), Chris Parmelee (Chino Hills High School, 2006), Hicks (Woodrow Wilson High School, 2008) and Lewis (JSerra Catholic High School, 2017).

This year marks the fourth time in Twins history they have had the 13th-overall selection in the draft. It also happened in 1995 (lefthanded pitcher Mark Redman), 1985 (righthanded pitcher Jeff Bumgarner) and 1975 (outfielder Rick Sofield).

Defensively Cavaco boasts a strong arm (93 mph off the mound) to go with his great range, and the Twins drafted him as a SS instead of a 3B. He could play 2B or 3B, with his arm, and if he keeps his speed as he ages he has the athleticsm to handle all three outfield positions.

Seventeen of the Twins’ first-round selections have reached the major leagues since 2001 and four have made appearances for the Twins this season, including Stewart (fourth overall in 2013), Byron Buxton (second overall in 2012), José Berríos (32nd overall in 2012) and Kyle Gibson (22nd overall in 2009).

Ke-Oh-Knee Cah-Vah-Co. Get used to saying it. No one in the draft has had more helium than Keoni Cavaco, who shot up draft ranks last fall and then again this spring.

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The Twins add another young, exciting player with potential while the big league team has the best record in baseball. How exciting!

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Fangraphs Future Grades, 22nd Overall ProspectHit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Future Value: 45

The Twins used their three first-day picks on a couple of power hitters in Cavaco and Wallner, and on a power pitcher in Rice righthander Matt Canterino. The latter two, they’ve followed for a while. But Twins scouts had barely heard of Cavaco at this time a year ago, because the 6-1, 185-pound teen, a shortstop and third baseman from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif., wasn’t invited to many of the summer showcases that amateur players attend. But when he took part in the Angels Elite showcase in Anaheim in November, they took notice.

I get the upside. But he turned 18 yesterday. Given where the Twins are, it seems to me that the only way you can make a pick like this…is if you REALLY hated the college arms. Toolsy, might hit. Did we need another one of those?

“We saw him at Angels Stadium at a workout, and he was hitting balls on the rocks out there in left-center, which caught a few of our guys’ eyes. As it should,” Johnson said. “That’s when we really dug in [on him]. And we literally had somebody at every one of his games this spring.”

I get the upside. But he turned 18 yesterday. Given where the Twins are, it seems to me that the only way you can make a pick like this…is if you REALLY hated the college arms. Toolsy, might hit. Did we need another one of those?

They saw an athletic infielder who played defense like he was born to it, and had an arm so strong, he occasionally pitched. He also has speed that reminded scouts of …

“He would run 4-flat [seconds] to first from the right side, which honestly is close to what [Byron] Buxton does,” Johnson said. “We’re not thinking he’ll be that fast for the long term, but he’s got really great hands, he’s got at least a 7 arm on the [scouting] scale of 2-8. He can throw from different angles. He’s just really athletic, and the defense comes really easy to him.”

They lose any draft pool money they dont spend, so it cant be funnelled to sign free agents. They will be able to draft and sign better players in later rounds with more money to give, as Tom has already stated.

Cavaco, who turned 18 on Sunday, has committed to play for San Diego State next year, but the Twins are confident, Johnson said, “that we’re going to reach an agreement at some point.” The bonus allotted for the 13th pick is $4,197,300, which figures to be pretty convincing, though each of the Twins’ last two first-round picks, Royce Lewis and Trevor Larnach, accepted less than the slot amount to sign, allowing the Twins to conserve bonus money for later-round picks.

They lose any draft pool money they dont spend, so it cant be funnelled to sign free agents. They will be able to draft and sign better players in later rounds with more money to give, as Tom has already stated.

“I have a bunch of friends there [at San Diego State], and it would be cool to play with them,” Cavaco said. “But I had my heart set on playing pro ball from the beginning. I’m young, so as soon as I can get into the system, as soon as possible, the faster I can get up.”

It sounds like Cavaco is more of a third basemen, but its not really going to matter anyway. This kid will be in the GCL this year and wont get to even Cedar Rapids before Royce gets to Double A, Id bet.

Wallner, who intrigued scouts with his 95-mph fastball as a freshman, gave up pitching this season and he wound up batting .323 with 22 home runs.

Im a huge advocate of taking bats early and then loading up on arms in the rest of the draft that you can put your gurus to work on.

Canterino has been Rice’s ace for the past couple of seasons, and posted a 2.81 ERA for the Owls this year.

Phil Miller has covered the Twins for the Star Tribune since 2013. Previously, he covered the University of Minnesota football team, and from 2007-09, he covered the Twins for the Pioneer Press.


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